Dear fellow Old Wykehamist golfer,
As the 2018-inscribed golf ball takes its final roll at the bottom of the cup and the 2019 ball beckons to be unwrapped, it’s time to look back on a wonderful year of OWGS golf.
Firstly, many thanks to Mark Coulman for passing over the Captain’s mantle with OWGS in excellent shape: the fixture list is well-supported and continues to evolve; overall levels of participation and interest remain strong; the links with golf in the school are flourishing; and a platform for success has been established at the major old school tournaments. Mark’s commitment to OWGS in the two years of his Captaincy both on and off the course have provided a wave of momentum which it’s been a pleasure for me to surf.
There were many highlights in 2018’s OWGS golfing calendar (as a match manager, the arrival of a full OW team on the first tee at RWNGC is always one of them!) – the Summer Meeting at the Berkshire in early July with 33 participants in baking heat; the conviviality of lunch at Rye another. But winning the Halford Hewitt Cup after a wait of 70 years takes some beating. More of that in a moment. First a few points of admin, if I may.
Save the date: in recognition of that wonderful Hewitt win, we have decided to hold a Celebratory Drinks Party on Tuesday April 9th, venue to be confirmed but likely to be Boodle’s, to which all members are warmly invited. The 2019 Halford Hewitt begins on Thursday of that week and your committee thought that it would be a fitting way to mark 2018’s success and send this year’s team off with support ringing in their ears. Nick will provide further information in due course – but please do come.
Honorary Membership: the Headman, Dr Tim Hands, has graciously accepted to become an Honorary member of OWGS, at the invitation of our President. Furthering golfing ties in the school is one of the most important and pleasurable of OWGS missions and the Aldington Match, where OWGS is hosted by the Headman, is the centerpiece of this link. The quality of golfers in the school, underpinned by the Golf Bursary Scheme and marshalled by the inspirational Rob Moore, continues to impress. Golf is properly regarded as a principal sport and the Headman’s support is very much appreciated.
Subscriptions: OWGS has 166 members (and 203 subscribers to the website / emails), of whom 127 pay a subscription of under £30 and more than a few members don’t pay at all. A minimum sub of £25 was established more than ten years ago and, without mandating a higher level, perhaps you could have a look at your direct debits and up that level if you feel that it’s appropriate.
Fixtures: the fixture list continues to evolve. As part of the preparations for the Hewitt, OWGS played its first match against Old King’s Canterbury at Deal in March (noted for Tristan Hanson smashing one of the first floor windows of the clubhouse from his opening tee shot!). The Summer Meeting, master-minded for the second time at the Berkshire in July by George Close-Brooks, is also a relatively new fixture and highly recommended. As ever there is always room in the fixture lost for more events and we would continue to encourage members to step forward if they see the need – against a club, school or society. With the advent of technology we are reaching more and more OWs around the country who are keen to play golf and we therefore have the resources to support people looking to launch new matches.
Please do let match managers know if you’d like to play in any fixtures – and also let any OW friends who might not be aware of the Society, that they would be very welcome to join as well.
Match managers: many thanks to all match managers from all of us. Small plea from Nick (and the wider Society) to let him know the match scores and, if you’re able, to write a brief match report. These give much pleasure to those unable to attend; the feedback that we receive from members is fantastic who all very much enjoy hearing the stories of colleagues on and off the course!
Halford Hewitt 2018
Although OWGS is about much more than simply doing well at the blue riband event which is the Halford Hewitt, it was a wonderful achievement for the team to lift the trophy at the end of four days of competition, as well as being enormous fun. This was a side whose members believed in themselves and in each other and where that confidence translated into a sense of real momentum on the course and great companionship off it.
For those of you who would like a greater insight into the derring-do of the combatants, you should also find below this newsletter a copy of the jottings I made at the time. Forgive the style – I am not a blogger and was never an avid diarist – but I hope it brings to life the focus of matches and the elation of victory.
It was wonderful to see so many OW golfers turn out to support the side over those four days: evidence of the importance of the Hewitt as the backbone of the Society’s elite competitive year, and also of the desire to see those decades of frustration wiped away. It was particularly special for us to celebrate the moment with Murray Lawrence, whose support for the side has been unstinting both as player (with a 74.7% win rate from 79 matches) and as spectator.
Equally special to be guided to victory by David Wybar whose compendium-like knowledge of each of the schools against whom we were drawn, their pairings and likely order provided invaluable intelligence which was the envy of every other team in the tournament. And a tactic that many are now seeking to replicate and are now discovering the Herculean task that DKW undertook to give the team a strong starting advantage. The best news is that an update to “The Book” cannot be far away?!
It’s fair to say that we are not complacent about the factors that contributed to our win: we were drawn at Deal for all of our six matches at times of day which were never challenging and against schools whose records were no better than ours. We avoided the top 4 teams in the draw. That being said, the team won through 5 rounds to face Ampleforth in the final and who were duly dispatched by 4/1. In winning, the OWs lost only five games in 6 rounds, went down the 18th only twice and once only into extra holes. This was the first time Win Coll has won the Hewitt since defeating the Watsonians in 1948- they were also defeated finalists in the inaugural competition in 1924.
Our statistician has also reminded us that we have just equalled OWGS’s longest first-round-winning streak… So we will not be getting ahead of ourselves on Thursday 11th April 2019 but by the same token hope that we will be able to lift the trophy again before another 70 years is out!
Congratulations again to the team of James Cameron (K, 03-08), Claudio Consul (C, 00-02), Mark Coulman (K,77-82), Tom Hawkings, (G, 76-81), Nick Holt (F, 93-98), Tim Lewis (F, 03-08), Jack Keating (C, 09-14),
Richard Sanders (K, 84-89), Dino Varkey (D, 94-99), Jay Varkey (D, 98-03).
Other notable competitions: Grafton Morrish, Bernard Darwin (Sen, and V Sen)
Perhaps, in the interests of space, let’s just say that we are hoping to build on the momentum of the 2018 Hewitt to show a more consistent performance in each of these other important tournaments.
Claudio Consul started the year in spectacular style for OW golfers by winning the Presidents Putter at Rye for the second time. Claudio also added the Bulgarian Amateur Open to his roster of European Amateur wins in September.
Tom Hawkings finished Tied 27th at the Senior Amateur Open at Royal Porthcawl shooting a fine sub-par final round
David Bonsall, as Chairman of the R&A rules committee, has just completed the project of re-drafting the Rules of Golf (launched 1st January 2019), assisted by David Wybar a fellow Rules Committee member
Anthony Goodrich is Vice Captain of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and will take over as Captain in April
Jack Keating is President and Captain of Aberdeen University Golf Club, currently lying in second place behind Stirling University in the Scottish League
Sergej Stojiljkovic, a recent school leaver and a beneficiary of the Golf Bursary Fund finished second in the Serbian Open where he shot 72,70, 74. Unfortunately he just missed the birdie chance on the last for a playoff
Apologies to other OWGS members whose fine achievements I should have noted. Many thanks to Nick Holt who does a wonderful job as OWGS Hon Secretary in maintaining the OWGS website and marshalling fixtures and entries, to James Whittington as Hon Treasurer for overseeing the purse and to our President Tim Rowan-Robinson for his ever-calm, reassuring bonhomie.
Here’s to another good year in 2019. Enjoy your golf; participate in as many OWGS fixtures as you can; and look forward to seeing you on April 9th for Celebratory Drinks if not before on the links.